Sea buckthorn oil has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy against various ailments.
It is extracted from the berries, leaves and seeds of the sea buckthorn plant (Hippophae rhamnoides), which is a small shrub that grows at high altitudes in the northwest Himalayan region (1).
Sometimes referred to as the holy fruit of the Himalayas, sea buckthorn can be applied to the skin or ingested.
A popular remedy in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines, it may provide health benefits ranging from supporting your heart to protecting against diabetes, stomach ulcers and skin damage.
Here are 12 science-backed benefits of sea buckthorn oil.
For instance, it is naturally full of antioxidants, which help protect your body against aging and illnesses like cancer and heart disease (4).
Interestingly, sea buckthorn oil may also be one of the only plant foods known to provide all four omega fatty acids — omega-3, omega-6, omega-7 and omega-9 (13).
Summary Sea buckthorn oil is rich in various vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and other plant compounds potentially beneficial to your health.
Sea buckthorn oil may benefit heart health in several different ways.
For starters, its antioxidants may help reduce risk factors of heart disease, including blood clots, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
In one small study, 12 healthy men were given either 5 grams of sea buckthorn oil or coconut oil per day. After four weeks, the men in the sea buckthorn group had significantly lower markers of blood clots (14).
In another study, taking 0.75 ml of sea buckthorn oil daily for 30 days helped reduce blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure. Levels of triglycerides, as well as total and “bad” LDL cholesterol, also dropped in those who had high cholesterol.
However, the effects on people with normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels were less pronounced (15).
A recent review also determined that sea buckthorn extracts may reduce cholesterol levels in people with poor heart health — but not in healthy participants (16).
Summary Sea buckthorn oil may aid your heart by reducing blood pressure, improving blood cholesterol levels and protecting against blood clots. That said, effects may be strongest in people with poor heart health.
Sea buckthorn oil may also help prevent diabetes.
One small human study notes that sea buckthorn oil may help minimize blood sugar spikes after a carb-rich meal (19).
Because frequent, long-term blood sugar spikes can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, preventing them is expected to reduce your risk.
However, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Summary Sea buckthorn may help improve insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity, both of which could protect against type 2 diabetes — though more research is needed.
Compounds in sea buckthorn oil may boost your skin health when applied directly.
Similarly, animal studies reveal that sea buckthorn oil may also help reduce inflammation following UV exposure, protecting skin against sun damage (22).
In a seven-week study in 11 young men, a mix of sea buckthorn oil and water applied directly to the skin promoted skin elasticity better than a placebo (24).
Keep in mind that more human studies are needed.
Summary Sea buckthorn oil may help your skin heal from wounds, sunburns, frostbite and bedsores. It may also promote elasticity and protect against dryness.
Sea buckthorn oil may help protect your body against infections.
Experts attribute this effect, in large part, to the high flavonoid content of the oil.
In one test-tube study, sea buckthorn oil prevented the growth of bacteria such as E. coli (12).
In others, sea buckthorn oil offered protection against influenza, herpes and HIV viruses (4).
That said, research in humans is lacking.
Summary Sea buckthorn oil is rich in beneficial plant compounds such as flavonoids and antioxidants, which may help your body fight infections.
Sea buckthorn oil may also contribute to a healthy liver.
That’s because it contains healthy fats, vitamin E and carotenoids, all of which may safeguard liver cells from damage (29).
In one study, sea buckthorn oil significantly improved markers of liver function in rats with liver damage (30).
In another study, people with cirrhosis — an advanced form of liver disease — were given 15 grams of sea buckthorn extract or a placebo three times per day for six months.
Those in the sea buckthorn group increased their blood markers of liver function significantly more than those given a placebo (31).
In two other studies, people with non-alcoholic liver disease given either 0.5 or 1.5 grams of sea buckthorn 1–3 times daily saw blood cholesterol, triglyceride and liver enzyme levels improve significantly more than those given a placebo (32, 33).
Although these effects seem promising, more studies are necessary to make firm conclusions.
Summary Compounds in sea buckthorn may aid liver function, though more studies are needed.
Compounds present in sea buckthorn oil may help fight cancer. These protective effects may be caused by the flavonoids and antioxidants in the oil.
For instance, sea buckthorn is rich in quercetin, a flavonoid which appears to help kill cancer cells (8).
However, the reported cancer-fighting effects of sea buckthorn oil are much milder than those of chemotherapy drugs (38).
Keep in mind that these effects have not yet been tested in humans, so more studies are needed.
Summary Sea buckthorn oil provides certain beneficial plant compounds which may offer some protection against cancer. However, its effects are likely mild — and human research is lacking.
Sea buckthorn oil is said to give additional health benefits. However, not all claims are supported by sound science. Those with the most evidence include:
- May improve digestion: Animal studies indicate that sea buckthorn oil may help prevent and treat stomach ulcers (39, 40).
- May reduce symptoms of menopause: Sea buckthorn may reduce vaginal drying and act as an effective alternative treatment for postmenopausal women who cannot take estrogen (41).
- May treat dry eyes: In one study, daily sea buckthorn intake was linked to reduced eye redness and burning (42).
- May lower inflammation: Research in animals indicates that sea buckthorn leaf extracts helped reduce joint inflammation (43).
- May reduce symptoms of depression: Animal studies report that sea buckthorn may have antidepressant effects. However, this hasn’t been studied in humans (44).
It’s important to note that most of these studies are small and very few involve humans. Therefore, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Summary Sea buckthorn may offer an array of additional health benefits, ranging from reduced inflammation to menopause treatment. However, more studies — especially in humans — are needed.
Sea buckthorn oil is a popular alternative remedy for a variety of ailments.
It is rich in many nutrients and may improve the health of your skin, liver and heart. It may also help protect against diabetes and aid your immune system.
As this plant product has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, it may be worth trying to give your body a boost.